Heritage Stewardship – Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
New unique agricultural heritage sites designated – FAO
19 April 2018, Rome – Thirteen new landscapes were formally celebrated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) here today, paying tribute to the ingenious ways that human needs and nature’s resources have been combined to create mutually sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems.
The new sites in this landmark FAO program are in China, Egypt, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Sri Lanka. Their primary production ranges from fruits, vegetables, salt and rice to silk, meat, tea and wasabi.
These systems “reflect a profound harmony between humanity and nature,” FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said at an international forum in Rome.
The new additions bring to 50 the total number of GIAHS worldwide. The programme highlights unique ways that rural communities have over generations forged to foster food security, viable livelihoods, resilient ecosystems and high levels of biodiversity, all while enhancing remarkable beauty.
“The sites are not about a nostalgic past but offer solutions for the present and the future,” Semedo emphasized. “GIAHS is also about innovation and opportunities, including broadening access to new markets and businesses such as eco-labelling, agri-tourism, youth empowerment to add value to our agricultural patrimony.”
Among the new GIAHS sites are the first members from Europe and North America: An agro-sylvo-pastoral system in Barroso, Portugal, a unique way of making salt in Salinas de Añana, Spain, a millennial way of growing muscatel grapes in Axarquía, Spain, and a set of artificially developed farmland in Mexico City (Chinampas) based on oral transmission of traditional techniques widely used during the Aztec civilization.
…Globally important agricultural heritage systems embody managed ecosystems in which water use, soil health and other ecosystem factors are intricately linked, often in ways that require bespoke social governance rules regarding tenure, resource allocation and labor.
Heritage systems bring together the economic, social, environmental and cultural pillars of sustainable development, Semedo noted. Recognizing them also underscores the leading role that smallholder famers – their creators and custodians – play in promoting biodiversity and a host of other shared goals, she added…